An Extra 10%

This morning, once again, I completed a back-to-back workout.  First, I spun easy for about 35 minutes (instead of 45) and then bolted to the pool to cram in another session of 10 x 100s, descending 100s for time and a 500 at T-pace (1:43/100).  I felt much better than Tuesday, when I was still recovering from the Pacific Half Marathon. Lately, I'm noticing I'm cutting roughly 10 minutes short of each scheduled workout. It's mainly because I'm busy and need the extra time to get ready and head to my next destination.  However, in my own subtle way, I think it's my small mini-rebellion against the heavily regimented nature of Ironman training.  Be here.  Do this exercise at this intensity for this amount of time.  Rest on this day.  Do this, don't do that.  Eat this, don't eat that.

It gets old after a while.

So perhaps this is my way of playing hooky while still getting credit for doing the homework.  Is that an oxymoron?

Whatever it is, I'm totally cool with it.  I'm getting the main thrust of the workout done and trying to do my best to keep my body and spirits fresh heading into the stretch run.  My hope is that the extra time off here and there will help me on IM CDA race day.  Maybe that extra 10% of extra overall energy can be the difference between being fresh and over-trained.  Doubtful, but I'm thinking in those terms at the moment.

Then again, on days like today, I didn't do much resting with that extra 10%.  Instead, I FINALLY got a strength training session in with Shannan.  Yoga and lifting have been the main casualties in this especially busy phase.  I'm hopeful in the coming weeks and months that I'll build back up on the strength and stretching to stay strong but limber.  Right now, I'm tight and tired!

I'm very much looking forward to my off-day tomorrow, that's for sure.  And it starts tonight, with Lakers tickets!  It's my first Lakers game of the season, and it couldn't come at a better time -- the biggest game of the season.  We've got to hold off Dallas for second place in the Western Conference.  I cannot wait.

Waking up early to get both main workouts done before work was entirely worth it.

Will try to upload images tomorrow morning before heading to work.  Go Lakers!

82 days and counting.

Shot in the Arm

This morning, I may have hit my low point in Ironman training.  I couldn't get out of bed in time for my Tuesday morning ride.  It was supposed to rain, which provided the perfect excuse to sleep in a little longer. Plus, last night's massage had left me in a rather tranquil mental state as well. Still, I needed to cram in a nearly two-hour ride before work.  This required me to ride on the trainer. I can't decide which is worse: Swimming endless laps in a pool, running on a hilly trail on a hot day by yourself without enough hydration, or riding for more than an hour on a bike trainer.

When you do all three in the span of a few days, it can cause you to go a little batty.  The sweat was literally forming little pools on my floor.  Shredded tire peeled away by the trainer floating in the salty water.  Finally, I had to pry the drenched technical shirt off my back just to feel like a normal human being again.  It was just one of those "What the hell am I doing to myself?!" kind of moments.  Which, as you've seen lately, I've had more and more of lately.

And instead of basking in the accomplishment of completing the workout, all I could think about was tonight's swim and how much I didn't want to attend.  I was so over it!  And yet I have a month and a half to go still.

Fortunately, I remembered my Muse mantra in the car on the way home from work, an hour before the swim.

They will not force us!

They will not control us!

We will be victorious!

The song, Uprising, totally picked me up.  I remembered that this is all a choice. Sometimes, a tough choice.  But a choice nonetheless.

I arrived to the pool reinvigorated.  Ready to swim.  Despite the crisp evening chill and scant raindrops.  The swim was a fairly intense one, with three sets of alternating 500s, 400s and 500s and a timed 100 to conclude the workout.  If my mental state had been worse, there's no way I would have matched my 100 PR time of 1:22.  Even Coach Gerardo commented that I had a breakthrough in my stroke, lifting my  left arm higher out of the water and gliding through the stroke longer.  He's confident I can lower my 100 time further if I continue to hone my technique.

And to think this workout almost didn't happen.

Every day I have to find a new way to motivate myself right now.  Today it was music.  Who knows what it will be tomorrow.

45 days and counting.

Treadmills and Hamster Wheels

My Wednesday brick was cancelled today due to rain.  Fortunately, I work for a great company on a fantastic office complex featuring a state-of-the-art gym that now includes spin bikes. Shannon, half of my vaunted Shan Clan training team, led the workout.  One hour and 600 hundred calories later, I was drenched in sweat, so much so that Shannon joked she could see my nipples poking through my mesh tank.  Hey, it was hot in there, OK?  My bike workout called for 1:15 so I spent the next 25 minutes on a recumbent stationary bike.  This was only made worse by dwelling on how much better it is to be outside riding with my friends and teammates.

But that's not all!  Since it was a brick, I needed to run for one hour.  Complicating matters was me leaving my running shoes in the car and being too lazy to schlep to the parking lot to retrieve them.  So I chose instead to use the elliptical machine because I was rockin' my low-top Chuck Taylor's, which offer absolutely no support for my flat and sensitive feet.

Let me assure you, two-plus hours indoors on spin bikes and treadmills feels like an eternity.  Might as well have been a four-hour workout. It's almost like the duration of indoor workouts feel the way dogs age -- in this instance on the opposite end of that exponential scale.

By the time my interminable workout ended, after stretching, showering, driving from Burbank for food and finishing it at home, it was 9:30 p.m.  My workout started at 5.

Some days, the world of training for an Ironman makes total sense.  The journey is pure, the cause is just, the scenery is beautiful and the company is even better.

Other days, I sit on my couch while blogging before bedtime wondering what the hell I'm doing.  It's 10 p.m. and I have to be up at 5:40 to be in the pool at 6 so I can run at 7.  All because I have a flight for a business trip at 11 a.m. -- one that I'll be home from by 8 p.m.

I suppose the irony of all this is that sometimes my life feels like it's on its own treadmill...with the speed ever-increasing while the resistance continues to elevate.  Along with my heart-rate.

Maybe it's more of a hamster wheel?

217 days and counting.

Time to Procrastinate

Full disclosure: I'm blogging to procrastinate right now. My new Garmin 310x uber-watch is staring at me, waiting to be programmed.  Begging, in fact.  Coach Gerardo is begging too.

Full disclosure:  I've had this watch for about two weeks.  It's still in the original box.  Anat likes to point this out regularly.

Tonight I've made some progress though.  All the parts are out of the box and now I simply need to download the appropriate software.  Yet I feel like the kid in that online car buying TV commercial (no, I don't fast-forward past all commercials, I'm actually an ad geek) where he can perform open heart surgery with a ballpoint pen but is frightened by the prospect of choosing the right vehicle.

I can run with bulls, sky dive or complete a triathlon... but I'm stymied by complicated-looking technology.

This from a guy who works at a video games developer.

To be fair, the actual set-up looks pretty harmless. Download some software, upload my vital stats, sync my heart-rate monitor and I'm done.  At least that's how the manual reads.

But the watch itself, well, it looks like something Batman should wear, not me.  I'm still searching for the hidden button that deploys the grappling hook.  And with all the features it sports, I'm afraid I'll try to get off the treadmill before it's time to do so and the belt will speed up uncontrollably, followed by, "I'm afraid I can't let you do that, Ryan."

So, that's why I'm procrastinating.  My life may depend on it!

I'll let you know how the set-up goes tomorrow.  I've got a blog to write now.

My schedule called for a brick workout today, spinning with hill climbs for 45 minutes followed immediately by a 30-minute tempo run with hill climbing to elevate my heart-rate to zone 4 (168 bpm).  I woke up at 6 to do it, crossing the darkened, bustling Sepulveda Pass to Equinox -- Gym of the Gods.  (My guest pass membership is expiring.  I am sad.)

The workout itself was uneventful, which is a victory since that meant I wasn't sore at all from Sunday's half-marathon.  Judging by my soaked clothes though, it was a productive workout nonetheless.  I'm finding that I need to work harder to elevate my heart-rate to the zones specified in my training schedule.  In other words, my heart is growing stronger, as is my endurance.  That feels good.

The real highlight of the day was seeing my blog featured in KNBC-LA news anchor (and now friend) Chris Schauble's "Iron News Man" blog.  To read that I'm truly inspiring others and they like what I'm writing -- it's almost overwhelming.  My blog is a labor of love, a "pay it forward" gift to my future family.  But it's becoming bigger than that, thanks to the people who read and contribute energy to it.

That energy is now adding fuel to my every pedal stroke, swim rotation and running stride.  It's permeating into my work, and my personal life.  I am growing stronger, faster, better.  I owe it to the collective energy of my friends and family, and for having an outlet such as this to dive deeply into my consciousness without fear of ridicule, embarrassment or rejection.

Thank you.

Now if only I can get one of you to program my watch.

286 days and counting.

Too Early for 2-a-Days?

I was too tired to blog yesterday.

I can't tell if that's because I was suffering the effects from my 14-hour travel day on Wednesday, which include that tell-tale throat tickle that must have come from Mullet Man. Or, maybe it was the combination early morning run followed by the evening lower body lifting session.

Maybe a little of Column A and a little of Column B?

My goal when I started this blog was to write an entry for every day leading up to Ironman AZ. That lasted less than a week. I will try to do better next time.

Here's the quick summary of yesterday's workouts.

Highlights: Running close to six miles at the prescribed heart rate (below 145) without trouble. (By the way, if you're interested I've attached my initial hear-rate goals until I have a proper field test.) And, being able to maintain Coach Gerrardo's desired cadence of 22 steps with the left foot at 15-second intervals. Weather was crisp and brisk and despite being jet-lagged, the run was pleasant. Dare I say invigorating? Listened to U2's No Line on the Horizon album, which is growing on me several months after the release and one live concert later (Rose Bowl).

Lowlights: Forgetting my running shoes at the gym and having to wear my silver-and-black argyle loafers with my workout gear. I looked like Jeff Spicoli joining the track team. Still managed to get a good session in despite my goofy appearance.

Today, after a relatively (rare) peaceful night's sleep I attended a 7 a.m. spin class at The Ride in Sherman Oaks ( The instructor was Lorie Kramme, whom I highly recommend if you're looking to learn and grow from a fellow passionate cyclist. Someone who knows how to really talk you through a visual experience while pushing your aerobic threshold just enough. What I especially enjoyed was her willingness to embrace my need for a specific workout (isolated leg training) and she even incorporated it into the group workout.

In the next hour I'll be conducting the second of my workouts today, upper-body lifting (read: swimming muscles emphasis) at our company gym. I'll be sure to bring my running shoes this time.


One quick note: I had the great fortune yesterday of being able to thank the two people responsible for piquing my interest in triathlon. Both live Down Under, as you might expect considering how popular triathlon is in Australia/New Zealand. I was in Auckland for a press trip when I met Dave Hine and Paul Gunn in November 2007, and my life changed ever since. Gents, thanks again for encouraging me to expand beyond my comfort zone. For dreaming big. For getting me off my lazy ass. For making me believe that I could complete a triathlon. And for being supportive of my (exceedingly modest by comparison) accomplishments in the sport.

Paul is one of New Zealand's best triathletes in his age group (35-39). I'm trying to get him to start his own Twitter feed so he can share his experiences with us. Paul was kind enough to invite me to stay with him in January 2011 for the Mount Half Ironman National Long Distance Championships. Even though it will only be a few months after Ironman AZ, I'm considering it.

But that's more than a year from now. Time to hit the gym.

354 days and counting.